The San Francisco 49ers barely enhanced their playoff profile by curb-stomping the New England Patriots Sunday, moving from 10th in the seven-team field to ninth, so what we can say about Sunday's throttling is this:
# San Francisco made the Patriots irrelevant for the foreseeable future, undoing Cam Newton, easily exposing a Belichick defense and ending, at least for awhile, the tedious and stupid Jimmy Garoppolo debate.
# The schedule is still daunting, very daunting. Other than a two-week vacation in the NFC East, the remaining aggregate record for their opponents is an absurd 33-11.
# In much the same way that old general manager Trent Baalke found guys with bad knees, new general manager John Lynch has a penchant for finding players with thin ankles and vulnerable fibulas. Thus, their schedule could be Vanderbilted at a moment's notice when they run out of a position group.
In other words, the 49ers did what they do — win the game (or occasionally lose the game), pile the bodies on the bring-out-your-dead cart, and go home to do it again the next week.
As of this morning, they are still outsiders, and the brutal nature of the NFC West, which will be exposed again tonight in Chicago with the Rams, suggests that kicking New England's collective nethers was more cathartic than it was revealing. The 49ers are 0-7 in games in which coming out injury-free was the goal, and that remains the team's central issue. Blathering on about their depth week after week will eventually become blathering on about their lack of depth as the injury festival is extended for another week, and then another, and then another. The race at this moment is to see whether they or the New Orleans Saints will get hosed by the NFC East winner, currently Philadelphia on the basis of their tie with 1-6 Cincinnati, and that might be decided in Week 10 when the 49ers go to New Orleans.
In other words, beating the New England Patriots was a bigger thing in the old days, which included last year. They're now just another bad team in a sea full of them. But for you 49er fans, it still beats losing to them. Now, if your team could get through a week without three high ankle sprains, then we can talk bigger picture.